Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pig-Latin and Dog-Greek

My wife, Jennifer, just forwarded me an interesting article that touches just a bit on “dog linguistics” — not just how to train your dog to respond to commands, but which commands work best, for phonological and psychological reasons. I couldn’t help but think of Garm and Dog Latin when I read it:
Farmer Giles had a dog. The dog’s name was Garm. Dogs had to be content with short names in the vernacular: the Book-latin was reserved for their betters. Garm could not talk even dog-latin; but he could use the vulgar tongue (as could most dogs of his day) either to bully or to brag or to wheedle in. Bullying was for beggars and trespassers, bragging for other dogs, and wheedling for his master. Garm was both proud and afraid of Giles, who could bully and brag better than he could.
Mull that over a bit while I go on a bit of a holiday. It’s Jennifer’s birthday on Saturday, so I’m taking a few days off. When I get back, I may some more to say about Garm. (BTW, the title of this post comes from a book review Edgar Allan Poe once wrote — not a very complimentary one, if I need point that out. :)